By Chris Morgan
Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports, and that is particularly true in football. Every team has to deal with them, but some teams have to deal with them more than others. And some teams have to deal with injuries seeming to befall their most important players. In their win over Seattle on Sunday, a game where several key players were missing for the Lions due to injuries, Louis Delmas hurt his knee… again. This has been an all too common occurrence for the Lions, and emblematic of the way that the players Detroit were expecting to rely upon have gotten hurt in recent seasons.
That is even regarding players that have gotten seriously injured once, and that’s it. This is about players repeatedly getting injured, repeatedly missing time, and routinely hindering the quality of Detroit’s roster on the field week in and week out. Delmas is but one notable example. He was the first pick of the second round in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he was the first safety selected that year. He clearly has a ton of talent, the kind that, if he could stay healthy, could lead to a Pro Bowl season. However, he has not been able to stay healthy at all. Detroit was wrongly considered to have a bad pass defense last season. They were actually one of the league’s better teams in that regard… until late in the season. That just happened to coincide with another Delmas injury. He’s the key to the Lions’ secondary. He is not unlike what Bob Sanders was for the Indianapolis Colts. He was great, but often injured. He was healthy in 2007 and was the AP Defensive Player of the Year. He was healthy during the 2006 playoff run and they won the Super Bowl.
Of course, that Colts team had Peyton Manning, who was always healthy until missing that final season in Indy with a neck injury. Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, spent his first couple of seasons injured. Granted, the Lions were in the early stages of a rebuild, so it didn’t hurt them that much. However, it likely hindered his development. Maybe he’d be even better now if he had managed to be a bit healthier.
Then, of course, there is the running game. Jahvid Best was a first round pick. He showed a ton of potential on the field. He will have spent over a year sidelined due to a concussion by the next time he plays, if he ever plays again. Kevin Smith dealt with injuries. So did Kevin Jones before him, if you want to go way back.
Some players do seem to have a tendency to get injured more than others, and to acquire such a player is admittedly a bit of a risk, but it is no guarantee of future injury. Meanwhile, a lot of players just suddenly get hurt. It’s hard to predict such things. The Lions have been particularly hurt by injuries to player expected to be key piece. You could play this game with every team, and never get a real answer, but if the Detroit Lions were able to have all their important players healthy for every game so far, what would their record be? Maybe one year it will all click–their best players will play a full season and the Lions can make a deep playoff run. However, due to their injuries the last few seasons, the Lions and there fans instead have to just shake their heads and wonder “what if…”
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Chris has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.